Wednesday, July 08, 2009


Normally I don’t speak ill of the dead, so in summing up Michael Jackson’s Memorial Service I’ll try to focus on the living. I tried not to get hooked into watching the event, but while waiting in a dentist’s office for a 6-month hygiene appointment ended up watching some of it with other patients.

Some reporters who spoke ill of him while he was alive were busy praising him in his death. I was waiting for the ceremony to begin, but the traffic backed up in L.A. due to the Jackson procession took longer than most imagined it would. In a bankrupt state extra costs for law enforcement for a service that rivaled a state funeral for a president or king. Okay so he was the King of Pop.

The actual teeth-cleaning saved me the agony of sitting through most of the service. Later at home I caught some of the speakers including Brooke Shields who a reporter later noted hadn’t seen Michael Jackson in years. I made it through until Jermaine Jackson started singing “Smile” a song actor Charlie Chaplin wrote. Shields pointed out that it was Michael’s favorite song. A song written by another tortured genius who in his time faced his own sexual allegations.

While he was living I got the impression Michael Jackson craved the attention. It seems only fitting that in death he got more than he ever enjoyed at any single moment of his moon-walking days on Earth. In the wake of that service the real circus will begin. Still I’m interested to know what kind of TV ratings the service produced. It has to rival just about anything ever seen.

The gal who worked on my teeth asked me how long I though it would be before the attention surrounding Michael Jackson’s death would subside. I wasn’t sure how to answer that, but speculated that we just couldn’t get enough about Princess Diana. I also wondered how Elvis Presley would have fared if the kind of media and technology we have today would have been around when he died in 1977. My dental technician said Jackson’s service still would have been bigger. She’s right Elvis Presley didn’t have MTV.

I still maintain that someday there will be a cable television channel out there that will only carry items about celebrity deaths. Their biographies, films and music videos, their best TV work, gossip on how their estate will be settled, even the funeral services themselves. What would you call a channel like that? An obvious choice would be “Thriller!”

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